Where Special Needs and Easter Meet
Some of my earliest memories are anchored in the sensations that accompanied our family’s Easter observances. Scratchy petticoats under new spring dresses. Bonnet straps tied too tight under the chin. The tickling ruffles of white anklets and toes crammed into shiny new Mary Janes. The smell of ammonia rising from Dad’s urinal zipped into the black leather bag tucked under the pew. Dad, not sitting beside his family, but behind us in his wheelchair.
I would steal looks at Dad during the sermons. More than 50 years later, I can close my eyes and see his expression as he listened to the pastor. That memory brings me to tears–and yes, I am crying while writing these words–because his expression is not joyful or hopeful. It is resigned. It is sad. Even sorrowful.
After the service, his expression always changed. Eyes twinkling, Dad would position his wheelchair in the middle of things. He greeted every person who passed by, shaking hands, sharing stories, wishing them a happy Easter, refusing to leave until the crowd dispersed, and Mom was fretting about the ham burning in the oven. Dad’s good mood lasted through Easter dinner with our relatives, the egg hunt with our cousins, and the card games that followed. But after the company left and Mom shooed us to bed, the sadness and resignation settled around my father once again.
When I was a little older, we attended Maundy Thursday services, and I sat up straight when the pastor read from Isaiah 53.
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